ECN is an acronym for Electronic Communications Network. A Forex ECN broker does not have a dealing desk but instead provides a marketplace where multiple market makers, banks and traders can enter in competing bids and offers and have their trades filled by multiple liquidity providers in an anonymous trading environment. The trades are done in the name of the ECN broker, providing you with complete anonymity. A trader might have their buy order filled by liquidity provider "A", and close the same order against liquidity provider "B", or have their trade matched internally by the bid or offer of another trader. The best bid and offer is displayed to the trader along with the market depth which is the combined volume available at each price level. A large number of market participants providing pricing to the ECN broker leads to tighter spreads. ECN brokers typically charge a commission for matching trades between their clients and liquidity providers.
Using an ECN broker to trade forex offers a number of significant advantages, the most apparent being tight spreads and deep liquidity. Tight spreads means that day traders and scalpers can take advantage of small price movements on an intraday basis. Deep liquidity means that large volumes can be traded without having any effect on price this is especially important in volatile market conditions and offers significant advantages for traders using automated forex trading systems. These two factors combined mean that you will be able to take advantage of more trading opportunities, more opportunity equals more profit potential.
There are a number of ECN brokers available in the marketplace today with the most common ECN being Currenex. Currenex is typically used by institutions and investment banks and out of reach for most retail traders, however in recent times as the demand for tight spreads and transparency has improved significantly many commonly know retail trading platforms such as Metatrader have been adapted to suit ECN brokers. Now more than ever the bridge between retail investors and investment banks is narrowing.
Of course using an ECN broker will not be of any advantage if you do not have a trading strategy or plan in place. Formulating a forex trading strategy that takes into consideration your risk profile, lifestyle and capital outlay is essential before you start trading. After formulating your trading strategy you should then try a few forex platform demos to determine which platform best suits your trading strategy. Of course it is important that you choose a forex platform offered by an ECN broker. It can often be difficult to determine and ECN broker, however as a rule of thumb ECN brokers will charge commission on your transaction rather quoting you a widened spread.
To learn more about forex trading using an ECN broker you can download our free FOREX Guide.